Title: Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mystery #1)
Author Name: C.J. Baty
Publication Date & Length: June 7, 2015 – 194 pgs
As he approaches his fortieth birthday, Justin Warfield feels alone, drifting like the sand that blows along the beach near his family’s hotel. He has done exactly as his father wanted. Married the right girl and carried on the family tradition of running the Warfield Hotel. On paper things seem perfect, but happiness hasn’t been a part of his life for a very long time.
Marcus Drummond once spent a summer with his best friend Peter at the Warfield Hotel and fell hard for Peter’s much older brother. Five years later he’s back, and this time hopes that Justin will see him as more than his kid brother’s friend.
Sparks fly when the two meet again, but there are a few things standing in their way. The closet that Justin has himself buried in and someone on a killing spree, dumping bodies on the Warfield beach . . . victims that indicate Justin may be involved in some way.
This is an exciting murder mystery that I devoured in a single sitting.
Justin manages his family’s beachfront hotel in South Carolina. Aside from a messy divorce, things are going well until the bodies of his former lovers start appearing on his beach. Justin quickly finds himself the prime suspect in a murder investigation as he and his friends attempt to protect themselves and find the real killer.
Southern politics, a nasty and soon-to-be-ex wife and an escalating killer come together in an engaging, fast paced book. The characters are well drawn and complex enough to support a full series. The setting is gorgeous and the story is coloured with just a hint of Southern Gothic. More James Patterson than Kindle Alexander, I’m not too sure why this book has been described as a m/m romance. Justin has a love interest, there is some sex, but the mystery and suspense elements are the story’s focus.
One warning to readers though, this is the first installment in a series and neither the mystery or the romance is sealed with a HEA by the end. Personally, I hate cliffhanger endings. I like my books to finish! I feel a little cheated. The series is compelling enough that I will read the next book, but it’s frustrating that I have to wait for book two to find out whodunnit.
This story had a lot of mystery, some hot sex and some hateful characters. While I could understand Justin wanting to finally be rid of his crazy wife and out of his forced marriage, I felt plopped in the middle of this story.
You have Justin who runs the family business, the back story of why he runs the business and why he married Caroline. But, I felt like it was missing a huge piece of his past – because you are given hints of him meeting and having a scene with Marcus, but nothing more than a flash and Marcus’ hurt feelings.
Then you have Marcus who is there to investigate in to these strange murders, but who is also there to see Justin again. But, then he just drifts and as a reader, I was left wondering where he had gone in the story.
While the story did include mystery, it was not a difficult one to piece together. The story leaves off in a very odd place too, because the characters are scattered. There is no real ending and that was frustrating. There is some completion of the murders in the end, but there is a huge hole in the story and while Baty does set up the next installment well, I felt there was no completion of the first installment in order to really do the second justice. I guess I will have to wait and see how the next installment brings the first together.
The night air was cool and damp as it blew off the ocean. Ian McAlister toed the sand where he stood, looking out into the darkness surrounding him. A soft glow filled the sky over the Warfield Hotel several hundred yards away. This was a public beach and closed at night, and the only sound was the soft lapping of the water against the shore. Ian fingered the note in his pocket as he thought of the words he’d read over and over again since he’d received it.
“Ian, I need your help. Please. Come to the Warfield and meet me on the beach at 10 p.m. on Friday evening. There’s a spot on the north end of the beach, just between the public beaches and the private beach of the Warfield. There’s a sign, meet me there. Don’t tell anyone. Please, Ian, I need you.”
Ian had not heard from Justin Warfield since Justin got married. It had been too hard to see each other as only friends. They’d each gone on with their lives. But for Ian, Justin Warfield was a hard man to forget, so when the letter arrived, his decision to come had been easy.
The sound of footsteps treading through the sand caused Ian to turn around. He was surprised to find a gun aimed at him.
“What are you doing?” Ian asked, but there was no answer.
He felt the pressure as the impact of the bullet pushed him back slightly. A searing pain knifed its way into his chest. He didn’t have time to run or even scream out. Darkness took him as he crumbled to the ground.
C. J. Baty lives in southwest Ohio with her very patient husband and two encouraging children. Her heart however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.
The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to fan fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.
One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is: “You are never too old to follow your dream even if it takes you fifty years!”